John was found inside a busted Tuba bell in 1947. He emerged around
1955 to start playing trombone in his elementary school band.
... In high school, during a fit of practice frustration, he smacked his
trombone against a wall. He had to take his horn to a local repair shop
and this is where John’s story truly begins.
In Tucson Arizona, Charles Unrue ran a small wind instrument shop about one mile from John’s home. Mr. Unrue was a retired line foreman from the Selmer instrument company. When John brought in his horn, Mr. Unrue noticed John showed great interest in his repair work. Needing an apprentice for his upcoming summer repair season, he called John up a few weeks later and asked if he would be interested in starting as an apprentice.
After John scraped himself off the ceiling, he ran down to Mr. Unrue’s and planned out a work schedule. After high school, John worked full time for Mr. Unrue but in 1967 his fate took another turn. He was offered a job at the Benge Trumpet Company in Burbank California. John built trumpets there until 1971 and during this time he worked his day off at the Williams trombone factory.
In 1971 he left the manufacturing business to start his own repair shop. In 1980, John was offered a position at Pasadena City College teaching wind instrument repair. During his 3 years at PCC, John was able to teach the class and continue to run his shop. In 1990, the business changed from repairs only to a full retail music store with sales, rentals and private lessons. In 2000, John’s wife Nedra joined the business and they worked together until 2016 when the store was sold to Bertrand’s Music. John now works as a repair technician for the Bertrands and will probably continue to do so until he crawls back into the Tuba bell.